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9 Things You Didn’t Know About The Morgan Horse

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The Morgan horse is one of the most elegant and versatile breeds. From roping to dressage and every sport in between, Morgans can be found competing. They are known for their good disposition and intelligence, as well as their strength and stamina. While it’s true that most of us have probably seen a Morgan at some point in our lives, you may not know some of the colorful facts about this all-round wonder horse.

 #1 – A Figure Of Music

The very first “Morgan” was not a Morgan at all, but a little bay horse named “Figure” for “a figure of music.” He was born in 1789 and it’s believed he was the son of True Briton, a well-respected sire of the day. Figure impressed people with his ability to “outtwalk, outtrot, outrun and outpull” any horse he was put up against. He became known by his owner’s name, “Morgan.” (morganhorse.com)

Image source: Dunton's Spirit of the Turf Magazine - Dunton's Spirit of the Turf Magazine, September 15, 1888, Public Domain
Image source: Dunton’s Spirit of the Turf Magazine – Dunton’s Spirit of the Turf Magazine, September 15, 1888, Public Domain

 

#2 –  All Morgans Trace To Figure

Amazingly, every single purebred Morgan traces back to just one stallion: Figure. It’s pretty amazing that they could develop a breed with as much diversity as it has today with only one foundation sire.

Image source: Anthony Domire JR. - Emma Brunberg, Leif Andersson, Gus Cothran, Kaj Sandberg, Sofia Mikko und Gabriella Lindgren: A missense mutation in PMEL17 is associated with the Silver coat color in the horse. BMC Genet. 2006; 7: 46. Published online 2006 October 9. doi: 10.1186/1471-2156-7-46, Published here: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1617113 as CC2.0, CC BY 2.0,
Image source: Anthony Domire JR. – Emma Brunberg, Leif Andersson, Gus Cothran, Kaj Sandberg, Sofia Mikko und Gabriella Lindgren: A missense mutation in PMEL17 is associated with the Silver coat color in the horse. Wikimedia.org

#3 – A Civil War Favorite

Because of their willingness, intelligence, strength and stamina, the Morgan horse was a favorite mount of the Civil War. They were practically coveted. The First Vermont Calvary was mounted entirely on Morgans. Both General Philip Sheridan and General Stonewall Jackson rode them as well. (morganhouse.com)

Image source: missing8519 - American Morgan Horse, CC BY 2.0,
Image source: missing8519 – American Morgan Horse, CC BY 2.0,

#4 – Breed Influencers

The Morgan breed was used to develop many others including the Quarter Horse, Tennessee Walking Horse, Saddlebred and the Standardbred. In fact, 90 percent of today’s Saddlebreds have Morgan blood. (morganhouse.com)

Image source: Just chaos - originally posted to Flickr as Morgan, CC BY 2.0
Image source: Just chaos – originally posted to Flickr as Morgan, CC BY 2.0

#5 – Pinto Coloring

Morgans do possess pinto genes. They can be sabino, frame overo, and splashed white. Interestingly, the tobiano pattern has not been seen in the Morgan to date.

Image source: StonelakeMorgans.com
Image source: StonelakeMorgans.com

#6 – State Mascots

The Morgan Horse is the state animal for Vermont and the state horse of Massachusetts.

Image source: J5ff - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Image source: J5ff – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

#7 –  Poetry Muse

The Morgan has been the source of many books, movies and even poetry. The renowned Robert Frost wrote the poem “The Runaway” about a young Morgan colt who is afraid of the snow. You can find it here.

Image source: @Rosewoman via Flickr
Image source: @Rosewoman via Flickr

#8 – They Can Be Gaited

Although rare, Morgan horses can be gaited. Those that did possess the trait could do the rack, pace, fox-trot or other lateral gaits. Interestingly, the trait does not seem connected to any specific bloodlines. (morganhorse.com)

Image source: Heather Moreton - Flickr: 2008 KY state Fair Morgan Horse Show, CC BY 2.0,
Image source: Heather Moreton – Flickr: 2008 KY state Fair Morgan Horse Show, CC BY 2.0,

#9 – Long Life Span

Morgans have a very long life span. According to the registry, the average is 20-30 years, with many living past 30 with adequate care.

Image source: @Rosewoman via Flickr
Image source: @Rosewoman via Flickr

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